Tag Archives: church

A Sense of Urgency

Recently, I finished a book by John P. Kotter titled, “A Sense of Urgency”. In it, Kotter looks at what causes businesses and organizations to thrive in uncertain times. He calls this a true sense of urgency and offers four tactics that support the strategy. While Kotter writes from a business perspective (the book is published by Harvard Business Review), I think there are three key takeaways that the Church can glean from his book.

  1. 417m-xEguvLWatch out for a false sense of urgency.

One of the most significant insights from the book, for me, was the idea of a false sense of urgency. This is when there is a perception that the organization is in trouble and in need of change, but the resulting behavior is a rush of activity instead of meaningful productivity. In the Church, we can easily run into situations built upon a false sense of urgency. The schedule is full, everyone is in a small group, we have a meeting every night of the week – but there’s no fruit being produced. It’s not how much you do, but what you’re doing. It’s not the quantity of activity, but the quality. You could have twenty small groups running, but if there are no disciples being made is it any better to have twenty as opposed to one? Better to have a small tree producing lots of apples than a large tree that doesn’t produce any.

  1. Find the opportunity in crisis.

Kotter points out that times of uncertainty and trouble aren’t necessarily the worst things that can happen to us. If approached correctly, these times can yield tremendous outcomes for us. In particular, they help push entire organizations from a position of complacency to one of urgency (and hopefully true urgency). I think the Church is in this very situation today. The world is changing at an increasingly quicker pace. It’s easy to look at the world around and feel threatened and scared for the Church and her future. However, this is also a time when those who are most rooted in a certain method and style of church are most likely to accept new efforts and practices. Now is an amazing opportunity to catalyze change in the Church because more and more people recognize the need.

  1. Behave with urgency every day.

If we want to develop a sense of true urgency within the Church, then our leaders – both paid and unpaid – need to behave with urgency every day. This means clearing and prioritizing the schedule, moving quickly, speaking with passion, behaving in accordance with your words, and letting others see you physically act with urgency. You don’t have to run around wildly, but aim to hustle in everything you do. Be focused, be clear, and act accordingly. Letting others, especially those in your church, see you move with urgency will get them to move with urgency too.

Does your church operate with a sense of true urgency?

How can you practically find the opportunity in crisis and behave with urgency ever day?

3 Ways to Be On Mission In A Rural Church

One of the hardest things about being a part of a rural church is engaging in mission. You know you’re supposed to and you actually want to, but where do you start? It’s not the same as our brothers and sisters who live and minister in cities, where neighbors are five feet away. In a city there can be thousands of people in the same space that encompasses one family farm. How then do we expand the Gospel in such a spread-out setting?

Fields in Oxfordshire, England

Before I entered into full-time ministry, I was music teacher at a local school district that was in a rural community. I grew up in a small city only fifteen minutes away from the school, but the cultures were extremely foreign to me. I wasn’t prepared for the different events and perceptions that came with rural life. There was a “drive your tractor to school” day, a week of animals being stored in the school’s bus garage, and I would inevitably be late to work in the fall because harvest season would fill the road with farm equipment.

I also wasn’t prepared for a culture change when my first full-time ministry position was at a church in a village of a few hundred people. It was a tough learning curve to adjust my strategy of mission to such a different context, but over time I found a few things that were extremely helpful to reaching out to those who don’t know Christ. Here are three simple ways to engage with people you don’t know:

  1. Gathering Places – Look for the existing gathering places and events of the community. Usually these will be the school, the post office, and maybe a mom and pop restaurant. The post office in our church’s village was closed because it was too small, which took away one of the primary chatting spots. Other places may be a park or a farmer’s co-op.
  1. Affinity Groups – These are groups that gather because of common interests. Normal ones might be gardeners, runners, and bikers. In smaller villages and rural counties, there are more people in political positions such as township trustees, soil and water conservation committee, and the village council. Farmers and handy men tend to find places to gather to chat and drink coffee.
  1. Just Stop By – There’s a culture present in a rural community that allows people to stop by each other’s homes a bit more easily then in a city setting. I’ve encouraged people that if they see someone out in front of their house as they’re driving past to go ahead and pull in and say hello. Make it a habit to look for those opportunities as you are going from place to place.

Being on mission in a rural church may be a bit more challenging, but it certainly is doable, especially if you take time to reflect on the culture around you.

What about you – what ways have you found to be on mission in a rural church?